The first of the four original elements of hip-hop, graff-writing-aka graffiti, is said to have originated in Washington Heights in the late 60’s/70’s. The term comes from the Greek word "Graphein," which means 'to write.' Heavily adopted by New York City youth during this period, graffiti-writing—which started out as using magic markers as a creative way to write one’s name or “tag” on a suitable surface, usually subway car-- was the first form of hip-hop communication between rival crews; the first form of hip-hop “battle” in lieu of physical violence.


Throughout the 80s, as hip-hop as a culture began to grow in the US, “tagging” developed into “writing” which consisted of much more than just one’s tag. Graffiti writers were creating large scale “pieces”-short for masterpiece, and this form of graffiti started to spread around the world at a rapid pace. Countries such as Spain and Holland were among the first outside the US to adopt graffiti-writing as a bona-fide art form. By the mid-80s, graffiti-writing had spread to more than 30 countries around the world and was a strong and respected element within Hip-Hop Culture.  Graffiti is now and forever a permanent fixture within Hip-Hop Culture. It is the cornerstone of inner-city self-expression through fine art, which is the underlying premise of Hip-Hop Culture. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Call for Artists

Elements Urban Arts Collective is interested in developing partnerships with graff-writers and visual artists with a specialty in urban/street art for upcoming arts projects.  For consideration, please send press materials (YouTube,Facebook, online photo gallery, etc.) to